Congo's internet shutdown after election could cause violent backlash

Robert Palladino

Robert Palladino

The National Independent Electoral Commission (Ceni) is expected to delay the announcement of the provisional results today, but the Catholic council of bishop's conference, known as Cenco, which deployed 40 000 monitors, has announced that the victor of the election is known.

The electoral commission is slated to release provision results on Sunday, but there may be a delay because of slow vote counting.

More than a third of polling stations in the December 30 election were missing voting materials when polls opened, according to a CENCO report on Thursday which outlined various shortfalls in the election's organization.

Two telecoms operators, Global and Vodacom, said the government had ordered them to cut access to the Internet on Monday - a move that opposition supporters said aimed at blocking social-media activism.

Congo's ruling party, which backs Kabila's preferred candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, has called the church's attitude "irresponsible and anarchist".

The deployment of USA troops to Central Africa signals mounting concerns of possible violence as the nation of Congo awaits the results of its recent presidential election.

Trump's letter says more military personnel will deploy as needed to Gabon, Congo or neighboring Republic of Congo.

President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he was dispatching military personnel to African countries near Congo citing the possibility of post-election violence.

The DRC has never had a peaceful transition of power; its first democratically elected leader, Patrice Lumumba, was assassinated in 1961, one year after the country gained independence from Belgium.

South Africa, long a Kabila ally, said the statement could "inflame" the situation if issued before the results, the report said.

As official results are tabulated and reported, the us said it continued to urge DRC government officials, leaders of the DRC security forces, opposition party leaders, civil society representatives, and stakeholders from all sides to respect the law and reject violence. "We suffer a lot here in Beni", said one participant in the mock election.

It expressed support to the African Union Election Observation Mission to DRC's expectation, expressed on January 2, 2019, that the announced results align with votes cast by the Congolese people.

At stake is a vast country rich in the minerals that power the world's mobile phones and laptops, yet desperately underdeveloped.

The December 30 vote saw 21 candidates running to replace President Joseph Kabila who has ruled the vast, conflict-ridden country for nearly 18 years. The delay led to sometimes deadly protests as authorities cracked down, and Shadary is now under European Union sanctions for his role in the crackdown as interior minister at the time. The U.S. has urged the government to restore internet service, and a United Nations human rights spokeswoman has warned that "these efforts to silence dissent could backfire considerably when the results are announced".

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